History of the Beginners Classes: a Speech by Wally P.
May 21, 2008, 1:00 am
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Initial growth in Alcoholics Anonymous took place in Cleveland, Ohio. Clarence S. and the guys went out actively pursuing drunks and brought them off bar stools and street corners. We don’t do that today, but we were doing it back then [late 1930’s and 1940’s]. And it worked!

In early 1940, when there were about 1,000 members of AA, more than half were from Cleveland. The book ‘AA Comes of Age’ talks about it on pages 20 and 21: “It was soon evident that a scheme of personal sponsorship would have to be devised for the new people. Each prospect was assigned an older AA, who visited him at his home or in the hospital, instructed him on AA principles, and conducted him to his first meeting.” So even back in the early days the sponsor was taking the sponsee to meetings and getting together with him, rather than having the sponsee track the sponsor down. ‘AA Comes of Age’ continues by saying, “But in the face of many hundreds of pleas for help, the supply of elders could not possibly match the demand. Brand-new AA’s, sober only a month or even a week, had to sponsor alcoholics still drying up in hospitals.” Because of this rapid growth in Cleveland, the idea of formalized classes started. In the book ‘Dr. Bob and the Good Old-timers’ it states on page 261, “Yes, Cleveland’s results were the best. Their results were in fact so good that many a Clevelander really though AA had started there in the first place.” Over half of the fellowship was from Cleveland up and through the mid-1940s. Continue reading